Updated September 18,2002

Donna just called and informed us that the Coast Guard has approved M/V Tortuga for Commercial use in near coastal operations for six or less passengers.  The next step is to complete signatures on the paper work and send back our current documentation which list Tortuga as a pleasure craft.

There is significant misunderstanding in the Trawler community (at least in Jacksonville) as to what my next requirements are.  It is very important to note that no further inspections of the vessel are required as long as I carry six or fewer passengers.  However, I fully intend to request a Coast Guard courtesy exam (they have a new name now) towards the end of this year.  Of course, obtaining my Captain’s license might be of some interest :).  I have been studying for the exam but will wait until I have the required number of “recent” hours accumulated.  That will take into early next year.  The end result being that Stephanie and I should be ready for charter operations (Boat & Breakfast) by summer of 2003.

Updated August 12,2002

Coast Guard Documentation

Coast Guard Documentation

Our documentation for Tortuga arrived from HRDS today.  It took about 60 days.  For those who are interested, clicking the image to the left will show you a full-size scan of what this document looks like.

We have begun the process of documenting Tortuga with the Coast Guard.  It seems that the standard practice is to contract with a company that handles this process for you.  So I made four inquiries prior to selecting one.  Two companies in Jacksonville, one near Norfolk and BoatUS.  The only one to return my call was Hampton Roads Documentation Services.  It is a full service documentation company founded in Portsmouth, Virginia by Donna Harmon, President. Donna was an assistant supervisor with the U.S. Coast Guard, Norfolk, Virginia office. All services are performed by their knowledgeable staff, which includes a former U.S. Coast Guard Documentation Officer. They provide you with over 37 years of documentation and marine related expertise. (757) 490-5999

Donna and her staff are members of American Vessel Documentation Association.

Donna has been extremely courteous throughout the process.  She provided a list of required documents and they where forwarded to her along with a check for $400.  She is $100 less than BoatUS.  Paper work was submitted by her to the Coast Guard and we should see the vessel documentation by the end of July 2002.

One of the options that may be open to us is taking advantage of a new ruling for those wishing to put a foreign-built recreational vessel into coastwise service.  In the past, the federal Jones Act put a stop to this practice.  However, last year Congress past into law a small boat waiver which can be obtained from the Maritime Administration in little over a month.  The program is open to small passenger vessels carrying no more than 12, that are over five net tons and more than three years old.  A request can be filed by e-mail and a notice is then published in the Federal Register with 30 days allowed for comments.  The fee is $300 and the process usually takes about 45 days.  We have also submitted for this waiver through HRDS.  We expect to hear on this request by the end of August 2002.

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